How to Make Your Houseplants Happy: Winter is Coming

what plants can be brought inside and stand a chance of surviving through the winter and how do you figure out what they need?

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By now you've certainly moved any houseplants inside - and we all know what a painstaking process that can be. From cleaning and checking for pests, to repotting where necessary, finding space for everything, and making sure all your plants are getting enough light, winter can be a trying time for the most seasoned of houseplant parents. Don't be surprised to see the occasional yellow leaf on your hardiest of houseplants. Growth slows and the majority of plants go dormant - though they won't hesitate to remind you if you forgot to refill the humidifier! Over this winter we will be covering topics such as grow lights, clever and space saving plant organization, and everything else you need to know to help your plant through this season.


To start things off, what plants can be brought inside and stand a chance of surviving through the winter and how do you figure out what they need? Below, staff member Caroline walks us through why she decided to try to overwinter her Alocasia alidora, aka elephant ear, in her apartment this year and how it's going.

Caroline's Elephant Ear

After numerous discussions at the greenhouse and seeking multiple opinions, my decisions to try to bring my elephant ear inside for the winter was an easy one. Typically in zones 6/7 it is recommended that you dig up the tubers after the foliage has died back and overwinter the bulb in a cool dark place. I've even been told that the leaves will come back as big as before! Why didn't I go this route? Simple: without a garage, shed, or other cool dry place to store the bulb I had no choice but to try to bring the whole plant in! Luckily that problem doesn't apply to many people (it also was a good excuse to prevent sacrificing those magnificent leaves).

I brought the plant in about two weeks ago. The only spot for it was a dark corner where I'd never dreamed of putting a plant before. That meant this plant would also need a grow light on it through the winter. I've always been fond of getting GE or comparable grow bulbs and using a hanging light kit (if you're feeling fancy you can always add a cute shade). I've found smart plugs online that are comparable in cost with a traditional outlet timer and set those plugs up with Alexa so everything is automated. (We will go further in depth about grow lights in another newsletter.)


Notice the browning on the edges!

Notice the browning on the edges!


I am still getting a feel for this plant's watering needs now that it is inside - new browning on leaf edges is telling me that I am going to be in a constant battle over ideal humidity this winter. While the plant is a stunning addition to any room, I am nervous about how happy it will be inside this winter. Luckily, working at a greenhouse I know my I can typically recognize why a plant is unhappy, and if not, have multiple people to ask for advice. Though that doesn't always mean I can give a plant what it needs once I identify the issues. I am really curious to see how the next few months unfold and can't wait to share updates with all of you!


Have any of you tried to overwinter an elephant ear indoors? How did it go? What are the biggest challenges you are facing with your plants this winter? Send us an email at info@paintersgreenhouse.com to share your stories!